Same/Different: Ways Preschoolers Perceive People
As your child grows, she becomes more sophisticated in noticing and classifying the people she encounters every day.
Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Logic and Reasoning
Attention and Focus
At 3 years old, she may:
- notice and ask about other people's physical characteristics, although she is still more interested in her own
- notice other children's specific cultural acts: Elena speaks differently from me; Mei eats with chopsticks
- exhibit fears about skin color differences and physical disabilities
At 4, he may:
- show more interest in how he is like and different from other children; construct "theories" about what causes physical and cultural differences
- begin to classify people into groups by physical characteristics (same gender, same color, same eye shape)
- be confused about the meaning of adult categories for what "goes together." For example, how can a light-skinned child have a dark-skinned parent? Why are children called "black" when their skin isn't black?
- show influence of societal norms in his interactions with others ("Girls can't do this; boys can")
At 5, she may:
- show an awareness of additional characteristics, such as socioeconomic class and age
- demonstrate heightened awareness of themselves and others as members of a family, as well as curiosity about how families of other children and teachers live: How can Sara have two mommies?
- continue to construct theories to classify or explain differences among classmates
- continue to absorb and use stereotypes to define others, and to tease or reject other children
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